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The Response

Dec 4, 2019

In this age of climate disruption and record shattering mega-fires, hurricanes, and the many other disasters wrecking havoc around the world, how do you rebuild from scratch? 

Allen Myers grew up in the town of Paradise, CA and like thousands of others, lost his childhood home to the Camp Fire when it burned through 153,336 acres of the Sierra Foothills on November 8th, 2018.

Despite its name, Paradise had been afflicted by deep poverty and opioid addiction for years before the fire — it is also located in a very high danger area that regularly experiences wildfires. So, perhaps a more relevant rebuilding question is, how do you rebuild a town better than it was before? Not just recreating the old systems and structures that weren't working for most people in the first place, but rebuilding with more resilience, equity, and humanity?

After the initial fire recovery was completed, Allen set out to find answers to those questions; visiting the small town of Onagawa on Japan’s Tōhoku coast. 

Seven years earlier, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake sent a 45-foot high tsunami crashing into the eastern coast of Japan, washing away several towns in the process, including Onagawa. While many of the surrounding towns have been slow to rebuild and have had a difficult time getting residents to move back, Onagawa has taken a unique path through a participatory process which has been incredibly successful.

In the final episode of season two of The Response, we follow Allen’s journey and explore the lessons he brought home from Onagawa and the rebuilding efforts in Paradise. It serves as a unique window into how residents are working together to build a new vision for what comes next, while fighting against the forces pulling them back towards the status quo.